When you hear fans of SEC football discuss who could win the division, Alabama, Florida, and Arkansas get the most hype—but what about Auburn?
One year ago at this time, there were some questions surrounding the program. Those questions have become expectations going into 2010. After starting 5-0 last season, the Tigers struggled the rest of the way. A humiliating loss to Kentucky, and then a near upset of eventual National Champions Alabama, there were inconsistencies in the second half of the season.
Several publications have Auburn finishing third in the West. There are some that go as far as putting the Tigers fourth. Nobody that's writing a serious piece about the team has them winning it all. I'll give you five reasons why I think they can win the SEC west.
In 1992 Alabama won the National Championship 34-13 over Miami. The very next season, an Auburn team on probation went 11-0, but couldn't play FSU because of sanctions. When Alabama has a good season, Auburn follows them up the next season.
When Auburn hired Gene Chizik, there was some public outcry over the decision (Charles Barkley). However, the plan was to get someone who could step in, work with what was already in place, and win with it. Chizik had been with Auburn under Tommy Tuberville during the undefeated 2004 season and he's brought in some of the best players. Of the 82 scholarships, 48 were signed by Chizik in 2009 or 2010.
3) LSU and Arkansas
Tough opponents Arkansas(Oct.16) and LSU(Oct.23) will be coming to Auburn. Having these two games back-to-back is tough, but winnable at Jordan Hare.
2) Returning Starters
Auburn lost three starters on defense, and four on offense, as well as punter Clinton Durst. Not that losing QB Chris Todd and RB Ben Tate aren't huge losses, but all reports indicate they're going to be fine at those positions.
Starting the season as the No. one team in the country could end up helping Auburn. If Alabama ended up losing a game, they'd still be ranked higher than Auburn's starting position. Even if Alabama lost two games by season's end, depending on who and when, they might still be a top 10 team.
The 2009 Iron Bowl gave the Tigers confidence going into this season. Auburn realizes how close they came to defeating the Tide. There's no doubt that the No. 1 ranking given to Alabama was deserved. Auburn also knows they nearly pulled the upset, and most of those guys are back to try again.
Auburn Tigers 2010 Schedule and Predictions
September 4, Arkansas State:
This is probably a good opponent to open the season with, considering Auburn will be starting a new QB in Cameron Newton. I expect Auburn to win this one big. Auburn 42-7
This is a step up from the first game, but not so much. If the learning of Malzahn's offense isn't going perfectly, it still won't cost the Tigers a win in this game. I personally believe the offense is clicking by this point. Auburn 35-3
The gloves come off in this game, but as I said before, the offense is going to have found its way by now. While there are a few questions around the pass defense, the run defense is really good for Auburn. I see this one being closer than the first two games, still I believe Auburn wins this one easy. 28-14
Is this the year for Spurrier at South Carolina? I don't think so!
Their fans will say it is, but isn't that what they always say before losing six games? It sure is. Auburn is on upset alert this week. Auburn 16-7
This game is a good one coming off a near upset, but it's another game to get the offense back into high scoring mode. Auburn 42-10
Auburn was upset by the Wildcats last season. Don't think for a minute Tiger Nation doesn't remember that too. There will be a fired up offense in this one. Auburn 38-14
Auburn has not done well against Arkansas in the past. Even when Auburn has a really good team they find a way to drop this one. In a season where Arkansas is loaded with talent that trend likely continues. Arkansas 34-31
This will be a tough game, but coming off a loss to Arkansas they'll have played a better offense, and LSU has five new starters on defense. Not very pretty at all, but I still believe Auburn wins this one. Auburn 28-21
The Rebels will be coming off a rough two games when Auburn comes in. Alabama and Arkansas in consecutive weeks before getting Auburn, with no McCluster and no Snead; no way they win. Auburn 33-10
By this point in the season the Dawgs are asking who the next coach is going to be. This will not be a good season for Georgia and Auburn will take full advantage of it, breaking the the four year losing streak. Auburn 31-20
November 26, at Alabama:
Auburn came close to beating Bama last season. It didn't happen and the Tide are bringing that offense back again. Auburn will be a better team than they were a year ago. Will Alabama's defense gel by this point in the season? The Tide are still the team to beat until we know for sure. I see this game being for the West. Both teams with one loss, the head to head match up is the tiebreaker. Auburn 23-14